Introduction to Ames, Iowa

Nestled snugly between the Skunk River and Squaw Creek in the heart of the Midwest is the Iowa city of Ames. Established in 1864 as a railroad town, Ames was named after U.S. congressman Oakes Ames of Massachusetts, a promoter and champion of the transcontinental railroad system. Centrally located within the state, Ames is part of Story County and is situated 35 miles north of the state capital of Des Moines. Principal highways servicing the city are Interstate 35 and U.S. Routes 30 and 69.

Ames is home to Iowa State University, which was founded in 1858 as a land-grant agricultural college, became a state college in 1898, and achieved university status in 1959. Noted as a leader in veterinary research, the city is also home to the U.S Department of Agriculture's National Animal Disease Center. Although the largest employers in Ames today are state and federal institutions, the city has a strong industrial base with several world-class companies including 3M, Sauer-Danfoss (hydraulics), Barilla (pasta), and Ball Plastics Corporation.

Ames Points of Interest

Combining a charming small town atmosphere with the amenities of a big city, Ames offers a diverse variety of recreational options, family-oriented events, cultural sites and much more. Among the more popular attractions in and near the city are the following:

  • Brunnier Art Museum: Located at Iowa State University, this is the state's only accredited museum. It features a decorative arts collection, a store, and a performing arts and conference complex.
  • Farm House Museum: Located on the campus of Iowa State University, this National Historic Landmark is a fully restored home reflecting late 19th/early 20th century life.
  • Art on Campus Collection: Also on the IU campus.
  • Reiman Gardens: A 14-acre garden with educational displays, a live indoor butterfly exhibit, gift shop and cafe.
  • Ames Community Theater: Offers a variety of live theatrical presentations and educational opportunities.
  • Veenker Memorial Golf Course: A championship public facility providing 18 holes of golf and a full service driving range.
  • Bandshell Park Municipal Concert Series: Held during the months of June and July.
  • Hoggatt School Historic Site: A restored one-room schoolhouse.
  • Octagon Center for the Arts
  • Homewood Golf Course
  • Iowa State University Memorial Union
  • Prairie Moon Winery & Vineyards
  • Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad (Boone)
  • Iowa Arboretum (Madrid)
  • Mamie Doud Eisenhower Birthplace (Boone)
  • Story City Antique Carousel (Story City)

Sports in Ames are embodied by the Iowa State Cyclones, the athletic teams of Iowa State University. The Cyclones compete in the Big 12 Conference, fielding 16 NCAA Division I teams in 11 different sports including football and basketball. The football Cyclones have participated in several post-season Bowl games.

The Iowa state capital of Des Moines, only about a half-hour away, is home to a variety of professional sports. Minor League Baseball action can be found at Principal Park, where the Iowa Cubs (a Class-AAA affiliate of Major League Baseball's Chicago Cubs) play their games. The Cubs are members of the Pacific Coast League (PCL). Des Moines is also home to hockey's Iowa Stars, who compete in the American Hockey League (AHL). The Stars' affiliation is shared between the National Hockey League's Dallas Stars and Edmonton Oilers. Another hockey team, the Des Moines Buccaneers, plays in neighboring Urbandale as a member of the United States Hockey League (USHL). Soccer fans can enjoy the Des Moines Menace, a team in the United Soccer League's Premier Development League (PDL).


Total Population 62,815
Male Share of the Population 52.6%
Female Share of the Population 47.4%
Senior Citizens 8.7%
Employed Population 16+ 33,423
Age of the Population 23


% of people married 32.5%
Average household size 2

Education and Earnings

Population % with Bachelor Degree or Higher 61.6%
Median Earnings25+ $0
Median Earnings Without High School Qualification $0
Median Earnings With High School Degree $0


Median Family Income $78,462
% Above Poverty Level 69.5%
% Below Poverty Level 30.5%

Commute & Sprawl

Average Commute Time 16 minutes
% Working from Home 2.8%
% Walking and Biking to Work 12.9%
% Using Public Transportation 9.1%


People Living Alone 29.7%
Median Gross Rent $785
Median House Value $174,300


Other(often includes Hispanic and African American) 18.2%
US/American 0.2%
English 7.6%
Irish 12.2%

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

Ames Almanac

Category Value
Nearest Large City 131 miles NE of Omaha, Nebraska
County Story
Standard Zip Codes 50010, 50014
Company Zip Codes 50011, 50012, 50013
Phone Area Codes 515
Time Zone Central (-6 hours from GMT)
Daylight Savings The city observes Daylight Saving Time.
Latitude 42.034
Longitude -93.619

Ames Climate

Nearest Weather Stations


  • Temp ranges are avg daily min and max for the month
  • Precipitation is rainfall (and rainfall equiv of snowfall)

Station AMES 8 WSW
Distance 7.7 miles
Jan Temp 10 to 27 F
Apr Temp 38 to 62 F
Jul Temp 63 to 84 F
Oct Temp 41 to 64 F
Annual Precip 34 inches
Station BOONE
Distance 13.6 miles
Jan Temp 7 to 28 F
Apr Temp 37 to 60 F
Jul Temp 63 to 85 F
Oct Temp 39 to 64 F
Annual Precip 36.3 inches
Station ANKENY
Distance 22.2 miles
Jan Temp 9 to 28 F
Apr Temp 37 to 60 F
Jul Temp 64 to 86 F
Oct Temp 39 to 63 F
Annual Precip 33.3 inches

Nearby Cities and Towns

Location Population Median Family Income
Cambridge 806 $71,442
Gilbert 1,237 $87,303
Huxley 3,430 $83,321
Kelley 323 $78,036

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

Ames Public Libraries

Ames Public Library
Ames, Iowa
(515) 239-5656
Library Web Site

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Ames Hospitals

(Government - Local)
(515) 239-2011
Emergency Service: Yes

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Ames High Schools

Serves 1,563 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 15.6

Ames Colleges

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